I really must try to improve the quality of these blog post titles…
I must apologise as I had worked on other posts and had predated them and you guessed it, I boo-boo’ed…..and one appeared live whilst I worked on this.
I had arranged to head out at some point last weekend and activate Beinn Chaorach, the Luss hill. The weather for the weekend was encouraging with only cloud forecast but so why did the five weekdays earlier have sunny clear skies ?
I woke early Saturday morning to see the cloud level at 1,500 ft so after a bit of thought, I said to Katie we will try again tomorrow but to be honest I didn’t need much encouragement to call off as I been out late Friday night.
I didn’t totally waste Saturday as I saw both Robin PKT and Jack COX had alerted so the 7 element 2m yagi…Blog post HERE which has lain in its cardboard box was got out, it was time to tune and test this baby out. I headed to Lurg Moor and set up everything and oops! I forgot my phone so no camera therefore no photos of this ‘Heath Robinson’ session, black tape is sooo handy. In what was a strong breeze, the beam had a mind of its own so after working Jack on Meall nan Caorach, east of Glen Almond then Robin on Druim na Sgriodain in the Morvern area it was time to head back home. It worked although I think I may have to use the heavier SOTA pole plus make a strong support for to attach the boom to the pole / mast. I had used a pair of scissors in the top of the pole and used parachute cord to steady the boom, a first success. I will only use this for chasing as I’m more than pleased with the performance of the 5 element yagi (see image below -Beinn Chaorach N view) on activations. I headed home with thoughts of how to bodge up a support.
Sunday morning duly arrived and as the previous morning at the same time I looked N and saw the same cloud level but this time decided to head across the water.
I had everything packed ready for a quick off so off along the same roads I had travelled two weeks earlier. Chaorach and a’Mhanaich are sister hills on the S edge of the Luss hills and access is best from Lomondside via the Haul Road(or new Glen Fruin road). I arrived at the starting place but although I have now been on this summit four times, I have used three routes to the summit. The start of the ascent is not too far from where the Battle of Glen Fruin took place (see HERE)
I said goodbye to Katie and climbed over the gate to slog straight up a field which always seems chock full of sheep, Chaorach in Gaelic means ‘the hill of sheep’. I kept well to the right of them as at this time of year it is not wise to worry or panic the ewes. I soon headed along the quad track at the top of the field towards another gate next to the wood where you head into open country. I could see the top of Auchengaich Hill occasionally but the cloud hadn’t moved any higher. This was to be an ascent with no views.
I steadily worked my way up the first hill and as you top this a steady ridge walk upwards on a faint quad track into the first boggy area where the track disappears at times but if you keep an eye to it on Beinn Tharsuinn you can soon pick the track up again. I quickly reached the summit of Tharsuinn and at this time visibility was 50m at the best but just nearby to your right is the start of the fence line which takes you down to the bealach then to the summit of Chaorach. Take the east side of the fence and follow the grassy path all the way up to Chaorach. Once you see a small cairn on the west side of the fence you are almost at the top, at this cairn you will find the best views S and SW on a clear day.
The trig point soon appears and I had made good time to the top. Views ? nothing. Visibility ranged between 40m and 30m the entire time I was there.
There is a fence which splits the summit from S to N so handy fence-posts to tie the mast on to. I moved 40m away from the trig point, linear not height! I quickly erected the beam and raised the mast and the 817 was ready to go.
A quick flick through and my first contacts were Colin and Heather UXH, both have the same last three letters but different class of call. They were doing a WOTA summit, Hindscarth which I passed on my route from Dale Head to Robinson on my Lakes trip last Sept. A WOTA chase to start.
Next I found Colwyn YCJ who was on White Coomb to the S of me so a STS (summit to summit) was a good start and after I worked YCJ, Andy FMF called in from Dumglow, the highest of the Cleish Hills and another STS. I also spoke with Jack COX then it was off for another quick check then off to .500 and after a single call, I worked Steve UAU in Greenock, Bob AWV in Gourock followed by Roddy 2MØIOB also in Gourock and after a quick chat with Roddy I worked Stevie SUB just to NW of me in Garelochead.
Regular contact Ken AXY called me from Edinburgh, contacts were coming thick and fast now, Geoff WHA called me from his home town of Annan before fellow blogee Neil 2MØNCM called me from South Ayrshire from the summit of Auchensoul Hill which I later found was a HuMP. It was good to work Neil as we have a running joke that he keeps trying to play ‘Dodgebob’. Today he chased me !
I got called next by Vic VTB from nearby Milngavie and Colin XSD from Frizington on the western Lake District called in and told me that Liz EPW was heading to Dent in the Lakes as we spoke, I was later to catch Liz on the summit of her hill and she worked me using just her handie, nice one.
I heard Billy ETB in Coleraine and gave him a call, Billy had been in QSO with a station in Dublin, I could hear the Dublin station but I only spoke with Billy.
I had a quick break and next one in the log was Robin PKT who was NW of me on Cruach Mhor to the NW of Inverary, as expected a very strong signal. A quick chat with Robin before I headed to work Andy USU in the Falkirk area. It was getting busy today.
I always head down to the lower frequencies as WOTA and some southern activators use lower than .400 which is the freq used most in Scotland. I heard Terry VWP on a NP (North Pennines) hill and I worked Terry with no problem on his summit of Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales area and quickly followed this by chatting with Phil OBK and finally Nick OOE who were with Terry. A good contact which led me to believe a slight lift was on as I heard a station operating on one of the Mell Fells just SW of Blencathra but I returned later and he had moved frequency. I should have persevered.
The earlier mentioned STS contact with Liz EPW on Dent was quickly followed by Stan SXT who was mobile and had just joined the M90 at J5 in Fife, Craig HJV in Gourock then Dennis DNX in Glasgow marked in the log.
Jim GLM called me from Dunfermilne, Jim has worked me on my last three activations, hopefully Jim will make it back out on to the hills by mid summer. Tommy OJE in Darvel, Stu BSM near Stirling, Ray MTO in Glasgow then John YDC then answered my call, I was surprised when John told me he 5ml south of Middlesboro, a good next to the last contact app 280 kms away before my last contact for the day, Christine YMM from Edinburgh.
30 contacts brightened up what was a cloudy, damp day.
I was on air for over two hours and after some fruitless calls on 70cm it was time to break the station and head off the hill. I headed to the trig to set up the GPS for the descent and much as I tried I could not get a phone signal where normally it is no problem. I’d call home on the way down. I had got a text earlier from Roddy saying it looked like the cloud may clear. The one text that had got through.
Packed up so off I headed down in 50m visibility and crossed the bealach and ascended the short rise to Tharsuinn where I was greeted by clear views down the ridge, I looked back and a wall of cloud showed. the phone showed full signal so I called home. I can only guess that on Chaorach the signal possibly affected by the cloud and damp conditions. My text tone kicked in and about a dozen texts rattled in from those who had tried to message me on the hill. I looked back and briefly saw the summit appearing then it disappeared again.
I turned on the handie and spoke with Roddy for almost the entire descent from Tharsuinn and as I dropped down the steep final descent Steve UAU called in from above Greenock but I lost both of then as I dropped down the field to the road. I’d made good time on the descent and as Katie arrived I was 200 m from the start point.
A good day marred only by lack of any views. Another shorts day !!!
A hill which was my first 4 point SOTA hill and my fourth visit, as with all the Luss hills a steep start but a hill with good VHF take off. Where am I off to next ? No doubt my head will be stuck in maps all week.
I’m going through my regular hills leaving the later months for new hills ( I hope).
Previous Chaorach blogs are
My thanks go to Wikipedia, Peakbagger and any other sites I have linked to.
As my a’Mhanaich post I have used earlier post images which if clicked on will embiggen.